Looking for a good word to describe Paradise Lost's Satan. My brain thought "magnanimous" but then I looked that word up. I want something like "magnificent" (which I may use) because it comes from "magnus" but I want there to be the undertones of evil. Malignant doesn't quite get there because I want to get across the sheer Greek heroic stature of Satan. Suggestions?


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    "Maleficent" sounds amazing, but unfortunately isn't remotely related to "magnificent". – approxiblue Jun 15 '15 at 1:52
  • Is "Maleficent' a real word? I thought it was a pun. – Zelzy Jun 15 '15 at 1:53
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    I thought it was a pun too, but it's real. – approxiblue Jun 15 '15 at 1:54
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    The original meaning of 'terrible', i.e. inspiring terror, might well work for you. – DJClayworth Jun 15 '15 at 2:10
  • Yes I think I might go with "great and terrible". – Zelzy Jun 15 '15 at 2:46


inspiring great awe or fear

In this case I'm referring to the older sense of the word that was used exclusively for God. However, because the meaning has so changed, writing "awesome Satan" might arouse some concern.


being of the highest or most extreme degree

Consummate carries a very superlative connotation. It also has the Latin stem summa, meaning highest or greatest.

Lovecraftian conveys feelings of immense power and evil, but may be too particular.

Hope one of these helps!

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    The problem with "awesome" is the more idiomatic modern use that simply means "cool". – Catija Jun 15 '15 at 3:07
  • awesome is perfect. Catija, you just have to ignore people that dumb :) – Fattie Jun 15 '15 at 3:49

Well, diabolical, natch.

Or malovent, baleful, sinister, heinous.

Terrible itself would have been a great fit in prior times, like "the great and terrible Oz" in that Oz was terror-inducing. But now we use terrifying which isn't as good an adjective for people.


I'd go with nefarious! Famously wicked.

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